You have worked hard to get your foot in the door, tell customers what your product can do for them, and respond to any objections they might have. Now it’s time to seal the deal. Or is it? A good salesperson needs to know when it’s time to close and how to go about doing it.
Misidentifying the moment to close can carry numerous problems with it, not least the fact that a customer with extra thinking time can very easily suddenly decide that they are not so interested after all, and a customer who is pressed to complete the deal too early can be left with a negative impression of the salesperson – one which may be impossible to conquer.
The point at which it is advisable to close on a deal will be fairly obvious to any experienced salesperson. The moment will become apparent, usually after you have gone through a typical sales pitch, responded to the potential customer’s objections and talked them around, and they have begun to give a positive impression with regards to buying – whether they do this verbally or through their body language and non-verbal comportment. At this point, you should begin to speak as though they are going to buy, while not talking as though they have already bought the product or service.
Once you start picking up signals that it may be time to close, you can ask a “confirmation question” such as “How soon do you need this?” If the customer gives you a date, you can proceed with the closing. If the customer still has objections or questions, you will have to handle those first.
This process of asking a confirmation question is sometimes called a “trial close.”
The benefit of a confirmation question is that it is something of a “closed question”. That is to say that it does not allow for the possibility that someone will come back and say “actually, I don’t think I want it”. If the customer is minded to buy the product, then they will already have been eased along the path to purchasing it by a simple question.
Rather than asking “So, would you like me to package this up for you?” the confirmation question allows you to garner that information without having to put the customer in a position where they answer a “Yes/No” question.
At this point, it is more than likely that the customer’s verbal and non-verbal signals will already have given a big lead as to their intentions. If they are making statements which pertain to where in their house the product would fit, or how they would use the service, then they are clearly already picturing themselves with the item, and they are as likely as they ever will be to be receptive to an attempt at closing.
The nature of your closing technique is important here, but the main thing to remember is that as long as you are respectful to any concerns they may have, you are all but guaranteed the sale.
A closing question should give customers alternatives other than yes or no. This approach effectively closes the deal but makes the customer feel that they are in charge.
Some sample alternatives:
For example, from the above list of alternatives you can craft a question that does not have a “yes” or “no” answer, allowing the customer to feel that they are in the driving seat while edging them towards deciding what you want them to decide.
Taking each of the above examples consecutively, these questions might go something along the lines of:
Delivery Date: “So, when were you thinking of having the item installed?”
Colors: “We do have a range of colors in which you can have the item – which of these do you like best?”
Models: “Well, there is this model, and there is another here with some extra facilities – which of those would you prefer?”
Quantity: “How many of these items would you like?”
It can be tempting to add at this point that other customers have tended to go for this color, or that many items, or to suggest when they could have the item delivered. It is wise, however, to avoid doing this as it looks like little more than over-efficiency and pushy salesmanship. Rather than doing this, you should pause and allow the customer to have the next word.
If they are not a hundred per cent decided on the item and have a follow-up question, they may resent you talking in a way which more or less celebrates the fact that they have decided to spend their money. What they say next will be the springboard for what you want to say, whether it be to formally close the sale or edge them further towards buying.
Remember, they have not bought anything yet, and they are not “other customers”.
Most people have had a buying experience that they felt good about. They were happy with the product and the terms of the deal. They may have felt so good about the experience that they told their friends about it and patronized the business again.
Often this kind of good feeling is a result of being treated with warmth and respect by salespeople — before, during, and after the closing. Remember that the impression you make in the closing is the one that will stay with the customer. Try to make the experience as positive as possible. The way that you treat a customer will have a real impact.
This can be very straightforward and simple, and just requires you to be polite and friendly. You should always ask what more you can do for the customer, whether it be something like getting them an earlier delivery than expected, helping them out to their car with the item or just asking them how you can help further.
It may seem like some of the above tips are self-evident, but it is surprising how often customers come away from a buying experience feeling like – although they have completed the transaction as they came to do – they would not be in a hurry to buy from the same place.
All the same, you should not grin like a Stepford Wife when making a sale as this can be off-putting. Just being polite and friendly when closing the sale, and wishing the customer a good day as they leave the store can make a huge difference. What you can do practically, and how you do things, will serve you well in any sale.
Margo sped hot on the tail of the biggest sale of her career. Margo could smell victory in the air, but the balloon quickly deflated when the customer on the line changed their mind and Margo left lifeless. Samantha saw the disappointment in Margo’s eyes and knew she had to lead Margo down the right track to Salesville. Margo felt thankful for the help and questions quickly stirred around her head as she tried to soak up as much information as she could from Samantha. Samantha put wind in Margo’s sails and gave Margo the keys to success and with a pat on her back and a boat load of sales tools, positive attitude, and the drive to go forward, Margo ran off to the races ready to beat her competitors.